Listen And Watch: The Shivers On TAS In Session On WNYE 91....
Local New York band The Shivers has survived an array of lineup changes, but its current core incarnation, the duo of Keith Zarriello and Jo Schornikow, seems a steadfast, strong pairing.
Desperately seeking the perfect analogue studio, Zarriello and Schornikow traveled to Manchester, England to record their pretty new album, More. The record is out now on Silence Breaks Records in the States and set for a UK release on September 26 via Fence Records.
Catch the entire TAS in Session with The Shivers on 91.5 WNYE this Friday, July 29, at 11 a.m. EDT and streaming on the TAS website:
Russ Borris: The first thing that jumps out to me about this record is how incredibly warm it is and then I saw a great quote inside the album that said, “No computers were used in the recording, mixing or mastering of this record.” Obviously, this was your intent.
Keith Zarriello: I searched on the internet, which is ironic I guess, for studios that had no computers in them and I found [Analogue Catalogue] in Manchester, England. I contacted them and it turns out, after a couple of email exchanges, that they were friends of a friend. So we were able to go over there and get an excellent rate, even though we had to buy plane tickets and pay for a cottage. We could record all analogue for just the kind of a rate that we’d get for a studio in New York.
Russ: That's amazing. How long did it take you to record the record?
Keith: Five days.
Jo Schornikow: The mutual friends we have are called Fence Records who are from Edinburgh and our putting this record out over there in the fall.
Russ: This record only took a handful of days? That’s pretty impressive. Studio day and night?
Keith: Not even. We’d just record, get there around 10 in the morning, record until night and then go to the pub down the street and go to our little cottage where there were all these goats and roosters outside the door. I’d open the back door of this tiny A-frame cottage and there was a goat right in my face.
Russ: This is a much better scene than being in the city, on the Lower East Side. Open up the door and smelling urine.
Keith: Yeah, this was just goat urine. That was the only difference.
Jo: We did do some of it in a church in Flushing as well. An organ interlude and other bits and pieces.
Russ: Anyone who has heard The Shivers knows that the falsetto that you bust out every now and again is something that sticks with people. Is that something that you fell into, singing that high?
Keith: We once knew this guy, a very evil, evil man, and he tried to tell us what to do and who to be and he told me, don’t ever try to sing in falsetto. It’s not your range. So ever since that moment I’ve been purposely singing in falsetto as much as I possibly can.
Russ: It’s like when you tell a little kid not to do something ….
Keith: I don’t think much about it. I just love R&B music so I want to sing like D’Angelo. Or Prince. Or Maxwell.
Russ: Is it a battle between D’Angelo or Maxwell?
Keith: Also, to be honest, I am a huge Jeff Buckley fan as well. I grew up listening to Jeff Buckley. I met him when I was 17. It was great. He was very sweet. Very shy, but a nice guy. He bought me and my friend a drink when we were 17, which is illegal. Obviously, he’s an influence, but I’m not trying to rip off Jeff Buckley. But I do love him.
Russ: What you’re doing falsetto-wise opens that up to a different generation of listeners because Buckley’s Grace, at this point, is going on 20 years which is frightening to think about. There are some people who don’t even know the genius that he was although maybe they can pick up on his falsetto style in a whole new way.
Keith: I don’t think I’m anywhere near as good as him. I don’t know. It’s just trying to sound sexy, that’s the bottom line.
Russ: There’s nothing wrong with that. It’s a good goal. Another influence that’s prevelant in the music of The Shivers is your love for Leonard Cohen. What’s so cool is that you recognize the song structure better than other people [admire his] songwriting process. It seems that you get it. A song that really stands out for me with that vibe is “Silent Weapons for Quiet Wars.”
Keith: We had a gig in Montreal which is the birthplace and home of Leonard Cohen and we drove all through upstate New York to go to a gig while listening to Leonard Cohen for seven hours going through upstate New York. Because of some legal troubles I’ve had in my life, we were taken into custody at the border and the Canadian authorities denied us entrance into Canada (Jo laughs) so we had to drive all the way back and we listened to Leonard Cohen for another seven hours. I was kind of depressed and when I got home, I wrote that song.
Russ: Fourteen hours of Leonard Cohen would depress you?
Keith: I wasn’t trying to rip off Leonard Cohen. That’s the thing. But I guess that makes sense.
Russ: On the studio version there’s a string section ….
Jo: There’s one cellist on it.
Russ: It sounds so big!
Jo: Thank you! I arranged it. I love strings. I played violin more than piano until I was 18 so I feel an affinity for string instruments. I love the way they sound and we had this really lovely English cello player who did a great job. That’s it.
Russ: Were all of the songs written before you went into the studio?
Jo: I think it was the most together we’d been. Basically, we knew we had five days so the drummer had come out from Australia to record with us as well. We’d been rehearsing for a month and we knew exactly what we wanted. We went in and got it done. There were no distractions, no internet. You’d wake up, go play.
Keith: The fact that we were recording to analogue tape meant that we had to get good live takes. Although you can do overdubs and punch in, it’s no where near as easy as it is to do it on pro-tools. The engineer Rob Ferrier, was great. He basically said, get the takes, no messing around ... It was basically done live. That’s the way we wanted it and that’s the way we did it.